CHINA> Regional
Beijing to shut airport for Games opening
Updated: 2008-07-18 10:57

The airspace over the Chinese capital will be closed for about five hours during the Olympics opening ceremony August 8 as part of the security measures for the Games, Chinese media reported Thursday.

Members of the Special Weapons and Tactics (SWAT) unit armed with automatic rifles patrol inside Beijing Capital International Airport July 2, 2008. [Agencies/file Photo]

Flights that are not linked to the Olympics will not be allowed to take off or land between 8:00 pm and midnight (Beijing time) at the Beijing Capital International Airport, according to domestic media reports.

Beijing Capital International Airport assistant general manager Huang Gang confirmed the closure was part of Olympic security measures.

The unprecedented closure in Chinese aviation history may cause dozens of flights to delay or reschedule.

The Hong Kong-based Cathay Pacific said it has received the notice from the Beijing airport authority.

The airline has rescheduled Beijing-bound Flight CX312 from Hong Kong to 9:45 pm to allow for the shut-down, according to Maria Yu, a spokewoman for the company. The original departure time for the flight was 4:45 pm.

Air China will also cancel four flights between Hong Kong and Beijing, while Dragon Air will cancel six flights - three from Hong Kong and three heading for Hong Kong, The Standard reported Friday.

The closure may also affect flight schedules at Shanghai airport as many flights chartered for the Olympic Games will stop there, the China News Agency said.

At least 20 flights from Shanghai to Beijing will be postponed or canceled, it said.

People's Liberation Army soldiers rush to their positions at a surface-to-air missile launcher near the Olympic Green in Beijing, June 24, 2008. Missiles are deployed to guarantee the safety of the Beijing Olympics. []

The Shanghai-based airline China Eastern said that online bookings for Beijing-bound flights between 3 pm and 10 pm on August 8 have been closed.

China Eastern said passengers will be contacted immediately if it receives any change of schedule information.

Authorities have taken a slew of security measures to deal with possible threats, including terrorism as the final preparations are under way to ensure a safe Olympics.

Surface-to-air missile launchers have been deployed just 300 meters from the National Stadium, "the Bird's Nest", to guard the main venue for the 2008 Summer Games.

The Beijing Capital International Airport will also implement special security checks from July 20.

Security checking equipment will be installed at the entrances of all three terminal buildings of the airport, an airport spokesman said in Beijing earlier this week.

Those who bring flammable and explosive substances into the airport will face severe punishment, according to the spokesman.

Passengers, people who come to greet or see the passengers off as well as those who work at the airport will all have to undergo security checks if they are to enter the airport, he added.

The spokesman said it is yet to be decided when the temporary rule will end.